Background

Water utilities throughout the world must deal with the issue of non-revenue water (NRW), which can seem like a never ending battle. One of the largest contributors to NRW are leaks from pipes and other assets such as valves or hydrants, that can be caused by aging infrastructure, cold weather, and soil erosion. Water main breaks are not only a waste of water as a precious resource, but can also be dangerous and life threatening.

Finding leaks throughout water distribution systems is a major challenge. Utilities rely on customer reports or observed leaks and bursts by staff to identify leaks. This is reactive work and by the time the leak is observable in this manner, it's usually become a major issue and caused damage not only to the network asset but also to surround roads, streets or other infrastructure and property. Alternatively, the Utility may proactively conduct manual surveys for leaks in specific areas to identify them earlier. However, such surveys are very labor intensive and would benefit from a focused or targeted approach to finding such leaks.

 
 

 
Customer Profile
 

Water utilities throughout the world must deal with the issue of non-revenue water (NRW), which can seem like a never ending battle. One of the largest contributors to NRW are leaks from  pipes and other assets such as valves or hydrants, that can be caused by aging infrastructure, cold weather, and soil erosion. Water main breaks are not only a waste of water as a precious resource, but can also be dangerous and life threatening.

Finding leaks throughout water distribution systems is a major challenge. Utilities rely on customer reports or observed leaks and bursts by staff to identify leaks. This is reactive work and by the time the leak is observable in this manner, it's usually become a major issue and caused damage not only to the network asset but also to surround roads, streets or other infrastructure and property. Alternatively, the Utility may proactively conduct manual surveys for leaks in specific areas to identify them earlier. However, such surveys are very labor intensive and would benefit from a focused or targeted approach to finding such leaks.

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Implementation
 

In September 2013, the Utility, together with Aquarius Spectrum, started implementing their “Fixed Water Monitoring and Leak Detection Solution”.  More than 1,600 acoustic sensors were installed over an 18 month period to cover most of the Utility's water distribution network. Aquarius Spectrum's solutions feature fixed and mobile acoustic sensors that upload gathered data to the Aquarius servers via cellular communication. The sensors incorporate built-in GPS capabilities, allowing for full-synchronization of readings across multiple sensors.

Each night, at an exact predefined time, all sensors record a noise sample and send the information to the Aquarius-Spectrum cloud based servers. The signals are processed, correlation algorithms are executed and alerts are issued to HaGihon regarding leaks or malfunctioning appurtenances, such as throttled valves. Analyzed findings are displayed via a user-friendly browser-based display. From the very first reading, the system started learning the behavior of the Jerusalem area water distribution network, by following its trends daily, from every sensor.

 
 
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Benefits
 

Results from a recent study by HaGihon indicate a substantial improvement in NRW in defined regions of the Utility’s network known as District Metering Areas (DMA’s) in which Aquarius Spectrum's system was installed and continuously operated during a period of two years (2014-2015). NRW reduced by 18% in those regions mainly due to locating and fixing hidden leaks and repairing malfunctioning Utility infrastructure that was located by Aquarius. In addition, after implementation there has been a clear trend of a yearly decline in the number of water pipe bursts.

As of August 2016, the Aquarius Spectrum system has found more than 226 hidden leaks in the Jerusalem area, 171 of which were in the public distribution network and 55 in private properties. Fixing those leaks resulted in potential savings of over 1 million cubic meters (264 million gallons) of water for the Utility. Without the Aquarius Spectrum system the leaks would have stayed hidden, causing continuous water loss, or burst into the open at some future date, causing much secondary damages. NRW was lowered by 18%; and the number of visible (reported) leaks (bursts) has declined.

In addition, the Aquarius Spectrum system has discovered more than 250 non-leak faults, including partially closed valves, faulty water meters, malfunctioning non-return valves and other items of equipment under the responsibility of the Utility.

The rising trend in the annual number of pipe bursts was halted and a drop in number is evident since the deployment of the system.

The Aquarius Spectrum wireless leak detection system is helping HaGihon to revolutionize the way it manages leak repairs, allowing it to switch from a reactive mode to a planned approach. The Utility is now able to plan its repair schedule to fix hidden leaks before they become visible bursts, thus reducing the cost of contractors, avoiding collateral damage to infrastructure, informing consumers well in advance of shutting off of water supply for maintenance, reducing shutoff times and improving customer service by notifying consumers of hidden leaks on their premises. All this saves money and improves the level of service.

“We are excited and proud to be at the forefront of municipal water system technology. The Aquarius-Spectrum innovative leak detection system has proven its effectiveness in improving the maintenance of our water pipes network and is changing the way we manage our assets.”

HaGihon's CTO, Mr. Aharon Rosenberg